Saturday, December 12, 2009

the love we have always had for our own bones

The cold has hit, finally; even though I knew winter was coming I wasn't quite prepared for the drop into temperatures that felt like -7, but in some ways it's a relief to have it here and not somewhere in the distant and dreaded future. Now we're in for the long haul, and all of Chicago can talk about nothing but the weather. I had to get my mittens out, and my scarves and my wool hat that says "light" on it in Chinese for reasons that I will never understand but always makes me feel as if it's referring to some sort of divine (in the human and not the celestial sense) brilliancy beaming from me, straight from the top of my head. On good days, which is to say many days, I do feel filled with light, and so this hat makes me secretly happy even though I generally hate clothing with unnecessary words in other languages on it and only bought this one because it was the best fit when I went hat shopping last year. My window panes have been freezing over, because I haven't shut my storm windows yet and now will have to wait for above-freezing temperatures to do so, but the patterns in the ice are sometimes beautiful and my apartment is warm enough that I don't have to resent them for making me cold.
Which is to say that even during winter, there are things to be grateful for.

Cold Poem

by Mary Oliver

Cold now.
Close to the edge. Almost
unbearable. Clouds
bunch up and boil down
from the north of the white bear.
This tree-splitting morning
I dream of his fat tracks,
the lifesaving suet.

I think of summer with its luminous fruit,
blossoms rounding to berries, leaves,
handfuls of grain.

Maybe what cold is, is the time
we measure the love we have always had, secretly,
for our own bones, the hard knife-edged love
for the warm river of the I, beyond all else; maybe

that is what it means the beauty
of the blue shark cruising toward the tumbling seals.

In the season of snow,
in the immeasurable cold,
we grow cruel but honest; we keep
ourselves alive,
if we can, taking one after another
the necessary bodies of others, the many
crushed red flowers.

1 comment:

Alicia Dabney said...

Beautiful poem. The hat story made me smile. :)